Play The Tape Through – Identify Your Options

Choice Theory developed by William Glasser, suggests that we all behave intentionally. We are motivated into action by how we think something will make us feel. It suggests that behavior isn’t good or bad just effective or ineffective. Even addictive behavior is always someones best attempt at getting what they want based on what they know. So how might playing the tape through and identifying your options help you make better choices?

Playing the Tape Through

Usually when an urge comes in and we consider giving into it, the thoughts are all about how great it will be. When we focus on just the gain and remember how much fun engaging in our addiction was this is called euphoric recall.

Playing the tape through to the end involves stopping to think about what will happen if you give into an urge to use. Getting really honest with yourself, how will you feel about you after you come down from the high. Will there be negative consequences with finances, health, relationships, job, what and who will be impacted by you giving into the urge.

Making a conscious choice involves starting at the initial thought that pops in about using or engaging in the behavior.

What happens when you get an urge?

What is the thought about engaging in your addiction?

What is happening in your body, (physiology)?

What feelings are providing the momentum to move into action?

What is the impulse you might act upon?

Using my gambling as an example, the thought could come from anywhere. If I was angry or frustrated I might instantly get a thought that I could go gamble. If I was happy or got paid, the thought of gambling would just pop into my head. It often felt as if it came from nowhere, but if I look back on it there was usually a trigger that had not only a thought but a feeling attached.

Putting The Steps In Action

The Thought –

The thought could be something like I am so frustrated and angry at my work situation right now I need a break. Maybe I could call in sick and go gamble for a few hours.

Body Sensations –

My body would immediately get a rush of adrenaline, a happy boost of yeah lets do that.

Feelings –

The feelings of frustration and upset are now eclipsed by the anticipation and excitement of giving into the urge.

Action –

The impulse will be to just follow through and go.

What To Do Instead

In order to change the outcome, the thoughts and the action need to change. We have control over our thoughts and action and this in turn helps us to have control over feelings and physiology.

So what might be a different response to anger and frustration?

As soon as I recognize that the thought to gamble comes up I can do a couple of things. (This by the way is the moment of truth. The problem is that most of us with impulse control issues go from thought to action, we need to take the time to stop and look at the behavior and make a conscious choice, not stay on autopilot.)

The Thought –

I can acknowledge that gambling is one option to distract me from my feelings. I can also check in with curiosity around why that thought popped in, or I can look at the possible outcome of going gambling. I can get real with myself and remember that lately I lose 99% of the time I go and that I have difficulty leaving the casino, and that a win is really just a delayed loss. I can also recognize that going gambling won’t change the situation at work, just delay having to deal with it.

Giving myself some time to get curious or reflect on the impulse will give the rational brain time to come on board. I can now look at other options, maybe take a walk before going into work to burnoff some of the negaive feelings, take time to do some deep breathing, talk to someone about my frustration.

Body –

How will changing up the thoughts and action affect my physiology? Making a healthier choice will help me feel more in control, will allow me to focus on solutions, or recognize that sometimes things just suck, but it eventually gets better.

(If you are having trouble seeing the negative consequences of giving into the urge, you can take some time to shift your physiology with some deep breathing. Getting grounded in your body will help you think more clearly as well.)

Feelings –

Changing the thoughts will help neutralize some of the negative feelings and help me feel calmer emotionally.

Action –

From this place making a conscious choice to go or not go is easier. Evaluate all the different options that came to mind and pick a healthier response to the situation. Taking the time to play the tape through, looking at the probable end result, all the consequences of my actions will give me the power to do something different.

The Final Choice

The final choice is yours. The biggest take away from this is that if you take the time to be mindful, aware of your thoughts and choices. Taking the time to stop and think about what actually giving into the urge will look like from start to finish will allow you to be more intentional with your response. It is when we stay on autopilot at the whim of our emotions that addiction can continue to have control over us.

So are you going to choose you or let your addiction continue to run your life? Play teh thape through and make a better choice.


Spread the love

Leave a Comment